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East Syracuse one of several locations competing for inland port

Included in central New York’s upstate revitalization plan is $40 million to develop an inland port that will process international freight containers coming from the Port of New York and New Jersey. The proposed location of the inland port is just outside of Syracuse in Jamesville, but another competing plan in a different location has been under consideration for years.

Go about eight miles north of Jamesville and you will hit a rail yard in East Syracuse that the company 3Gi wants to use to unload and refill international containers. Dan Spethmann, the president of 3Gi, said this plan has been in development for four years.

“We are opening up the market for international trade for agriculture from central New York to the world at large,” Spethmann said. "The goal that the governor stated some time ago, that central New York would be the bread basket for Asia, for the world, that will only happen to the extent that product  can be delivered from here in a timely fashion.”

Over the years the plan has been endorsed by CenterState CEO, the Regional Economic Development Council and the Port Authority of Oswego. Those are the key players now involved in the Jamesville location.

“We were all quite surprised when we woke up one day and read in the newspaper that they have elected to take the intermodal idea and candidly, most of the work that we have put together, and transfer that to a different location," Spethmann said. "Frankly, it surprised all the people at the new location as well.”

A spokesperson for CenterState CEO said an environmental review process is examining multiple sites throughout the region for the inland port including Jamesville, East Syracuse and other locations. Oswego has also expressed interest in locating the inland port there.  

Spethmann said the East Syracuse location is on a Class I rail line which means they can carry more freight and apply for federal funding. He said there is about 5 million square feet of warehousing available within five miles of the rail yard.

"To bring that back online from our perspective makes good sense," Spethmann said. "It's very consistent with the goals of the state freight plan which is to utilize existing assets or reutilize existing assets. It rings the bell on a variety of different ways."

A public meeting on the East Syracuse plan will be held at the DeWitt Community Room on Wednesday.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.